THE countdown is on for the biggest weekend of Australian football ever in Adelaide, with an unprecedented two finals to be played for the first time.
Adelaide will host Greater Western Sydney in the first Qualifying Final on Thursday, September 7, at 7.20pm.
Port will host West Coast in the first Elimination Final on Saturday, September 9 at 7.20pm.
As both Crows and Power fans prepare themselves for the exciting finals race ahead, the team at Adelaide Oval is already preparing themselves for the blockbuster weekend.
Adelaide Oval chief executive officer, Andrew Daniels, said his team were “beyond thrilled” to be hosting three AFL finals this year.
“We’ve previously held two finals in 2014 and 2016 and if these are anything to go by, there promises to be some blockbuster match-ups, with a packed stadium in full voice,” he said.
“Our entire team will again be hard at work in the lead up to these games to deliver an outstanding experience and we’re looking forward to hosting football fans from all over the country.”
Mr Daniels said there were absolutely no concerns about two games of football being played on the oval over the one weekend. “The Adelaide Oval was designed for these events and we have the best grounds team in Australia,” he said.
South Australian Tourism Minister, Leon Bignell, said the state’s economy could expect an injection of at least $8 million thanks to the thousands of interstate supporters coming to town.
“We’ve got the minor premiers and the best restaurant in Australia with Orana, so there will be people coming to see good football and enjoy what SA has to offer.” “What we know is that when footy fans come here, they don’t fly in and fly out, they come here and spend a few days and visit McLaren Vale or the Barossa and check out our wineries and great restaurants,” he said.
Diehard Crows fans Cindy and Dave Ward, from Sefton Park, along with their children Amber, 15, and Luke, 13, were last night preparing to buy their tickets when 250 tickets went on sale to the members of the Adelaide Supporter Group.
“We’re so excited about getting the home finals, firstly because we hope it’s an advantage, but secondly because there will be less travelling for us as a family … until, hopefully, the big event when even if we have to hook the van on, we’ll be going,” she said.
“Finishing top is exciting in itself, but playing the finals at home should work in our favour.” Mrs Ward said while she didn’t want to jinx the team, she could see the Crows making it to the Grand Final this year and the reason for that is the team’s coach, Don Pyke. “He’s the core of the whole entire team,” she said.
Meanwhile, rivals, Sarah and Bill Noblet, from Lockleys, were also preparing to buy their tickets to Port’s do-or-die elimination final.
“We’re so excited, we’re pumped, we’re going all the way,” Ms Noblet said.
Her husband agreed: “They’re the dark horse of the finals; they’re like Western Bulldogs were last year and they’re going well at the right time of year”.
Ms Noblet said Port would “smash” anyone they had to play in the finals. “Paddy Ryder, Robbie Gray and Charlie Dixon have given us beautiful moments this year,” she said.
Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese said he had been following the results closely and was thrilled the city would play host to such an exciting weekend of football.
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“There will be tens of thousands of people pouring into the city, so I’d encourage every cafe owner and restaurateur and wine bar operator and retail store and publican to be ready to accommodate the many, many guests,” he said.
Australian Hotels Association SA branch general manager Ian Horne said Adelaide Oval had been an extraordinary success for the tourism and hospitality industry and with two interstate teams — and supporters — booking to travel to Adelaide, accommodation would be at a premium.
“Whenever there is an AFL match at Adelaide Oval, the accommodation statistics are excellent, and the food and beverage experience from pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants is excellent … and the fact that we have three AFL finals is just icing on the cake.”
Mr Bignell said he was hoping for a Port versus Crows Grand Final.
BY JAMES DOWLING
RICHMOND fans are hoping to end a 16-year hoodoo as three Victorian teams vie for premiership glory.
Excitement is building among the long-suffering Tigers, whose club hasn’t won a final since 2001.
Essendon and Geelong supporters are also daring to dream.
Richmond diehard Tess Alexander said she was excited the Tigers were back in the eight and on the finals march.
“I think this is the year we win at least one final — we have had a really good year,’’ Ms Alexander said.
Essendon’s return to the September action is considered a particular triumph over adversity after 12 of the Bombers’ current list were suspended for the 2016 season.
The team got the wooden spoon last year — winning just three games all season.
While the weekend’s results brought joy for some, Demons supporters were grappling with cruelly missing out on a finals showing thanks to West Coast’s 29-point victory over Adelaide.
Melbourne cheer squad co-ordinator Suzanne Considine said while she was disappointed it was still a good year for the Demons.
“It was a nice new feeling to go into Round 23 still being able to make the eight,” she said.
Originally published as Countdown to giant footy weekend
Source: sports dailytelegraph